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Mindless quoting without analysis or context - bad

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Ok, Just got back from incredibly boring and pointless “scientific” gathering and run into the CNN material on what Dr. Watson has to say about African intelligence.

The original link is here

This piece is actually very good example of how media operates. The material contains 664 words of which 44 belonged to actually what was said in the subject. Needles to say that the quote on CNN was taken completely out of context and cannot possibly invoke anything but righteous indignation.

I yet to see the full interview but you can se the largest exerpt I managed to find here 

Suddenly, the whole piece becomes very much open to interpretation. From what’s available, I yet to see where he actually said this. So far, again from the excerpts available, I see that he said that the intelligence is “different” – well that could be said about any given two people on the street; he said “there are many people of colour who are very talented, but don’t promote them when they haven’t succeeded at the lower level” – Umm, isn’t it what critics of affirmative action and social promotion say now and then without being accused of racism? Now, if you remove word “colour” from this quote, wouldn’t it be a rather “common sense” statement?

So , the only problematic comment I see so far is this is this comment about black employees and that one was rather taken out of context.

Later on he said, “there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so”. Again, isn’t it true for any given two people on the street?

My only problem with this is that we have no idea what “intellectual capacities” is. The intelligence remains rather poorly defined quality and most so-called tests are not objective and usually tests different types of intelligence. Interesting tidbits however, on numerous occasions when standard IQ tests “find” differences between say “white” and “African-Americans” you can see the claim that IQ tests are “racially”-biased. Think about it for a second.. Isn’t it the same as if you said that “intelligences” are culturally biased.

If you look at marathon results under 2hours 15 minutes you will notice disproportionally high number of people from the Eastern Africa and the Northern Africa (Kenya, Tanzania Ethiopia). There is a clear genetic (and biochemical) link between specific type of endurance and specific ethnic background. Nobody goes berserk about this trait yet the second somebody mention “intelligence” media goes all the way through the roof.

Look at headlines, here is one “Black people 'less intelligent' scientist claims” – this of from Sunday Times. Notice “black people” and “scientists” - they immediately grouped ALL black people and they assigned a category – “scientists”. Makes the reader think right off the bat that ALL scientists.

Trully, “we see things not as they are but as we are”

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  1. No Such Agency's Avatar
    If it was anyone else, a) nobody would care and b) there might be some leeway. But honestly I think the scientific community is sick of Watson constantly belching forth some sexist or bigoted crap and then getting away with it because he's WATSON. Somehow an intelligent scientist has managed to learn nothing from the last 40 years of social advancement, he still treats women like sex objects and makes jokes about minorities that would have made people cringe in the 70's...

    If you read his boring, arrogant book "The Double Helix", it turns out he was a grossly sexist, obnoxious twit back then too, so I guess he hasn't actually gotten WORSE...

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